Andrew Oliver

WHEN the Colonial Society of Massachusetts undertook to publish two volumes of the records of Trinity Church, Boston, there was no intention of having a foreword to the second volume. The front matter for the first volume, it was believed, could serve to introduce the second as well. The death of Andrew Oliver, our President, and one of the two editors of the Records of Trinity Church, changed the original intention of those concerned with these publications. His death left a great gaping hole in the Colonial Society, and it seems proper to record that fact. Fortunately, Andrew Oliver lived to see the publication of the first volume of the Records. Though he had seen the galleys for the second volume, he died before the work on it had been completed. Without slighting the contribution to this project made by James Bishop Peabody, these two volumes could never have been published had it not been for the editorial work contributed by Andy to finish the job. In a very real sense these two volumes are one of many memorials to him.

This is not the place to publish a full-scale memoir of Andrew Oliver. At the same time, the Colonial Society wishes to make its appreciation of Andy’s work and its sense of loss at his death a matter of record. To accomplish this purpose one cannot do better than to quote the remarks of Stephen T. Riley, a Vice-President of the Society, made at the Annual Meeting of the Society on 20 November 1981.

I wish to record our great sense of loss at the death of Andrew Oliver, our President. This sense of loss was evidenced to us by the great outpouring of friends at his funeral service at the Church of the Advent. Andy was a very engaging person, possessed of a quiet elegance, wit, and charm that drew people to him. Few could match him as an entertaining speaker and versifier. Highly intelligent and serious-minded, he was also deeply religious and a devoted family man.

Andy had the gift of seeming to do things easily. Yet he was a hard worker. How else could he have produced the series of books which he brought out in a relatively few years? He began with Faces of a Family then the volumes of the portraits of John and Abigail Adams, John Quincy and Louisa Catherine Adams, the Diary of Samuel Curwen, the Edouard silhouettes, and others. Until the time of his death he was busily engaged in new ventures, not the least of which was the catalogue of the paintings in the Massachusetts Historical Society.

All of us connected with institutions—historical or otherwise—have good reason to be grateful to Andrew Oliver. His benefactions to institutions located in a geographical range from New England to Virginia—and possibly some beyond that—were quietly made. Fritz Allis for this society and colleagues for others can testify to that. Looking back over my years at the Massachusetts Historical Society, I know that our great collections of Oliver family papers could not have been assembled without Andy’s assistance, and the Notebook of John Smibert might not have been published so quickly, had he not produced the money for it.

In the organizations with which Andy was associated he inevitably moved up to high office. He was a conservative politically. I doubt that Andy would have found membership in the Americans for Democratic Action attractive. I have often thought that he would have been perfectly at home in the able Hutchinson-Oliver group that ran affairs in Massachusetts before the American Revolution and against which John Adams sputtered. Yet in a Tavern Club skit based on that early period, Andy’s lively sense of fun prompted him to play the part of John Adams, while Tom Adams played the then current Andrew Oliver.

We do not often come upon a man like Andrew Oliver, who meant so much to so many of our local and national institutions. We shall miss him for his many kindnesses, his profound interest in what we were trying to do, and above all for friendliness and humor that never failed to make our days brighter.

The Indices

From the very beginning of the proposal to publish the Records of Trinity Church, Boston, it was agreed by all those concerned with the project that the indices to the second volume, which contains lists of Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials and Funerals, should be complete ones. Since almost every line of the three-hundred-odd pages of these lists contained several names, the task was obviously a Herculean one. After one indexer had abandoned the job in despair, we were fortunate in obtaining the services of Ms. Lois Krieger, of the Dartmouth College Library staff, who had the stamina to complete the indices that follow. Anyone using this volume will stand forever in Ms. Krieger’s debt. The fact that the indices to this volume are almost as long as the text is proof of the thoroughness of her work.

A few specific points about the indices: there is a separate index for each of the three main divisions of this volume—Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials and Funerals; an entry followed by an asterisk (*) indicates that the same name (though not necessarily the same person) appears twice on the same page; an entry followed by a Crosshatch (#) indicates that the person referred to is a black. Since there are variations in the spelling of some names, it is often difficult to determine whether entries refer to the same person or to two different people. Through cross-references the indexer has attempted to deal with this problem, but users of these indices may have to make their own decisions in some cases.

Frederick S. Allis, Jr.

87 Mount Vernon Street

Boston, Massachusetts

March 1982